Hundreds of GP practices sign-up for software to prepare for CQC registration
More than 1,000 GP practices have bought software costing hundreds of pounds to prepare for CQC registration next year, in a sign of the widespread apprehension in general practice about signing up to the regulator.
Despite assurances from the CQC and the GPC that it's unnecessary to buy any third-party software, a firm claims to have sold its system to 1,000 practices - a tenth of the UK total.
The company, iQ Medical, said it had received orders for its iQ CQC Management system from 21 practice manager groups, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), PCTs and hundreds of practices, covering 1,000 practices in total.
The software allows practices to rate how their practice procedures are compliant with CQC requirements and log staff training. The basic toolkit costs £870 per practice, although iQ Medical said due to bulk discounts, the average price paid per GP practice was £648.
Other companies offering compliance software also claim to have sold systems to GPs in advance of the April 2013 registration start date, but have been accused of ‘scaremongering' by the CQC.
Managing director of iQ Medical Graham Poulter, said: ‘It's now only nine months until registration commences, and more and more practice managers are now looking for a solution to the compliance process.'
‘The registration element may have been simplified, but compliance definitely has not, and ideally it will need to be in place by September 2012.'
A spokesperson from the CQC warned some companies were ‘scaremongering' and making ‘misleading' claims on their websites, and warned GPs that commercial compliance systems did not represent ‘value for money.'
Victoria Howes, design team leader with the CQC, said: ‘We haven't confirmed what the questions in the application are going to be yet, so how do they know?'
‘They don't seem to add anything to what you can do for free. I have yet to see one that reflects how we regulate because they don't talk about outcomes.'
‘Practices should be looking at what they already do, rather than paying thousands of pounds for a software package that repackages what they already do.'
Ms Howes confirmed that draft copies of the CQC application form were sent out to 400 practices in the CQC's reference group by email this week for comment. An outline of the process and timetable will be published in February, with a final version of the application due in July.
Dr Philip Fielding, chair of Gloucestershire LMC, said he regretted his practice investing £300 to £400 in third-party software to prepare for CQC registration.
He said: ‘We have been penalised for preparing too far in advance. But clarity about the purpose of the CQC has led to significant confusion for practices.'
‘It shows the disintegration of information from the Department of Health to GPs. It's been a cautionary tale.'
ELAS, which also sells CQC compliance software for GPs, was unable to provide any sales figures, but said its software system had been sold mostly to private GPs, whose regulation starts this year.